A Day in the Life of Kevin Kolanowski of Fuse Lighting

I am very excited that Kevin Kolanowski, owner and designer of Fuse Lighting, is sharing his day with us. I’ve always wondered what it might be like for a designer-and-business-owner gearing up to launch new pieces and still juggle clients. Phew! This is quite a jam-packed day — check it out:

West Week in Los Angeles is the beginning our of new year at Fuse Lighting, where I introduce my new designs for the year. It happens in late March and for 2011 I have a dozen new pieces in production. Last year I created thirteen new designs and swore I’d pull back this year. Technically I kept my word on that. Welcome to my day of meetings.

6:00 AM: Wake up and head to the gym. We’re in LA after all.

7:30 AM: At the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax and Third for some coffee and to catch up on email. The Market hasn’t changed much since it opened in the 1930’s, and I love that. You get a sense of a simpler Los Angeles and, despite this solo shot, it’s still packed daily with locals and tourists. Occasionally you’ll see some soap stars from CBS Television City right next door. Not that I watch soaps.

8:00 AM: Stop by the Fuse studio across the street from my house to check in with my staff and collect my thoughts for today. Shortest commute ever, unless you actually work from home. The studio is on a small hill in West Hollywood surrounded by trees, hummingbirds and the occasional hawk. A great place to be, unless the hawk is after you.

9:15 AM: Meeting with Thomas Lavin, my first showroom and Fuse’s Los Angeles home, at the Pacific Design Center. As an interior designer I had a hard time finding the right lighting for my projects so I began designing my own. It was Thomas who encouraged me to create an entire line for his showroom over ten years ago, and every year at West Week we premier my new pieces together at West Week. Here we consult with Ramona Drost, inspiration for my Ramona chandelier. Several others have named designs after her. If you know here you know why. A few of my sconces hang in the far right.

10:00 AM: I still design interiors and right now I’m working with one of my previous clients on a new building he bought downtown. Los Angeles has one of the most beautiful downtowns in the U.S. which up until a few years ago was greatly underused. We’re renovating three apartments, one at a time. Driving now for a site visit about one of the kitchens. Lots of driving in Los Angeles.

11:30 AM: At the Poggen Pohl showroom for kitchen cabinets.

Noon: More Driving. Luckily I can catch up on phone calls from the car… hands free of course.

12:15 PM: Back at the studio for a quick lunch and a meeting with Christian, our production manager. Introducing Bandit, our studio dog.

1:30 PM: Meeting with our plater to inspect the Geneva pendants for Thomas’ showroom. My line is handcrafted entirely in Southern California which allows me daily interaction with my workshops.

2:15 PM: More driving. Or should I say, more sitting in my car. If you really were spending the day with me I could use the carpool lane.

2:45 PM: Checking on the gilded arms for the Milan chandelier, another new design for Thomas’ showroom. The inspiration originally came from a woman’s boot, although it may be hard to see that now. I’ve always been inspired by fashion. Many revisions since we began the prototype and I’m excited about the final product.

3:45 PM: A quick stop at our glass blower. A brilliant craftsman just outside downtown working on crackled glass shades for the new London chandelier and sconces. I love to travel and many of my designs are named after my favorite cities.

4:00 PM: More driving. Just assume I’m driving all day.

4:45 PM: Back at the office to check in with my staff one more time and work on a couple custom pieces for a designer in North Carolina with Eddie, our sales manager. Eddie is all of a sudden camera shy for the first time in his life.

7:00 PM: A lecture on Knole at LACMA, the LA County Museum of Art. Knole is an English country house in Kent, best known for the Sackville family who’ve lived there continuously since 1604. The lecture was hosted by LACMA’s Decorative Arts Council, chaired by designer and friend Oliver Furth. A installation of vintage street lamps light the main entrance. LACMA has undergone a beautiful expansion over the last few years and architecture has always been one of my biggest inspirations.

8:45 PM: Dinner at the Tar Pit on LaBrea with Rich Johnson, lighting and furniture designer. Great place, maybe a couple years old. Fun, smart décor and menu. They know their stuff without taking themselves too seriously. I’m guessing that’s why they’re still thriving. Always inspired by light in any form, I snapped this photo. What you don’t see is the cocktail about two inches out of frame. Long day.

11:15 PM: Bed now. Thankful. Tomorrow will look a lot like today, as will the following days until West Week. Then it’s time to start on next year’s designs.

Thanks, Kevin!

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.